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Concert Reviews:
Noel Gallagher and his Birds fly high at the Masonic
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Near the start of his concert Friday night, Feb. 9, at the Scottish Rite Cathedral inside Detroit's Masonic Temple, Noel Gallagher asked the crowd -- which had slogged through heavy snow to be there -- "Why do you live here? There's a place called California. It's sunny all the time."

Fortunately Gallagher and his High Flying Birds gave the hearty travelers plenty of justification for their efforts.

Opening his new North American tour, the former Oasis leader delivered a 21-song, houre-and-45-minute romp through both his past but mostly present, establishing the abundant merit of his three post-band albums, including the new "Who Built The Moon?" And when he did dip onto the Oasis canon, Gallagher dug deep -- beyond the hits "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger" (poignantly paired at the end of the show with the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love") he favored less-celebrated but clearly appreciated gems such as "The Importance Of Being Idle," "Little By Little," "Half The World Away" and "Go Let It Out."

But Friday's show was really designed to showcase Gallagher's burgeoning High Flying Birds catalog, and particularly the new album. The expanded band, which featured former Oasis bandmate Gem Archer, John Rutherford and Keith Kaminski of Detroit's Motor City Horns and scissors (yes, scissors) player Charlotte Marcionneau, gave the material all the octane it required as it powered through pulsing rock anthems such as "Holy Mountain," "Riverman," "Ballad Of The Mighty I," "AKA...What A Life!" "It's A Beautiful World" and "Black & White Sunshine" leaned to Gallagher's psychedelic side, while "She Taught Me How to Fly" nodded to northern English Merseybeat and the slinky "Be Careful What You Wish For" was one of two songs to feature backing vocalist Audrey Gbaguidi.

The group, in fact, only took its foot off the pedal for a gentle duo treatment of "Dead In The Water" that kicked off the encores.

Gallagher, sporting a black button-up military jacket and black T-shirt, seemed loose and happy, with no overt signs of opening night stress. He had a particularly good time with a seven-year-old fan named Wyatt, who he spotted standing on a chair towards the front of the stage as his mother held aloft a sign announcing it was the youth's first concert. "Let him hold his own f***ing sign!" Gallagher said, noting his own seven-year-old son would do the same. He asked Wyatt if he really knew who he was or was just there "on the off chance you'll get on YouTube."

He dedicated "Dream On" to Wyatt's chances of getting a selfie, but later in the show Gallagher came to the front of the stage to autograph the boy's copy of "Who Built The Moon?" -- though he quipped that he would "have to fire my security guard" for letting Wyatt get so close again.

The snow was still prodigious as fans left the theater, but Gallagher and company certainly made it a good place to be -- and live -- for the night.



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